Thursday, May 03, 2007

Yet Another Reason I Hate What Unions Have Become

Steven Grant's weekly column, Permanent Damage over at Comic Book Resources had a nice little bit in it that I am going to reprint here instead of linking to, just because you need to read this:

Here's a good one: The Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) has decided that even if you create your own music you can't play it on your own website without paying them. They talked the US Copyright Office into designating their subsidiary Soundexchange the collector of Internet radio royalty payments for all music played on the Internet, not just music controlled by the RIAA. Why? Pretty much just so they can enforce their will on Internet radio.

What this means is that if you compose your own symphony and want to podcast it, you have to pay Soundexchange the royalties that you owe yourself. Then Soundexchange will pay the royalties back to you, if you pay Soundexchange for the service. If you don't want to join Soundexchange - and if your music doesn't fall under RIAA jurisdiction, why would you? - they don't have any obligation to give you the money you're owed. Because, apparently, nonmembers simply aren't owed any, even though they're required to pay.

It's basically racketeering, and like most such schemes various companies and organizations are now trying to impose on the Internet, I can't wait to see how they plan to enforce it, since the Internet is an international operation and it's only a US government agency that has authorized this thuggish stupidity. Not that it'll stop the RIAA from trying to operate like a pack of mobsters, but it'll be interesting to see what happens when someone decides to take them to court over this. It's hard to imagine courts will uphold the scheme for long though I expect some judge somewhere will think it's a wonderful idea, so arguing it in court doesn't seem in the RIAA's best interest, but if they back down on any threats of legal action they'll be backing down on all of them. Most likely they'll face any legal challenges with the standard corporate practice of driving up legal costs for the opposition and trying to keep the case from ever coming to trial.


While I too don't think this will hold up in court, it really chaps my ass to think that this sort of thing still goes on and that the government wasn't smart enough or at least legally savvy enough to nip this in the bud right away. The fact that a union or "organization" is trying to control ALL revenue derived from music downloads on the net, even from non-members is (and always will be) preposterous. The RIAA should be a volunteer organization - if you want to join, pay fees and get services in return then great! If you don't and want to police your own affairs then that's good too... We're all adults here.

But that's not good enough for some folks. Those sort who say they know what's good for me and they're going to make a law to ensure they always "know" what's good for me all the while reaching around and taking dollars out of my pocket. Unions serve at the pleasure of their memberships, something Union leaders have ignored or forgotten.

They need to be reminded constantly of this fact.
I suggest a swift kick in the genitals.


Andrew said...

1. The RIAA isn't a union. It's an industry association. Unions are worker collectives. Industry associations are (usually) corporate collectives.

2. The copyright office is not a regulatory agency, it is a recording and registry agency. It doesn't even evaluate the merits of your copyright; it simply records that you have registered it.

3. The RIAA cannot be granted authority to collect fees for nonmembers since the copyright is under the sole control of the copyright holder. It's the same reason that it cannot try to force the copyright holder to pay a fee to himself. In fact, it's actually copyright infringement for them to try to do so.

With all that in mind, this whole thing sounds like yet another Internet hoax. The only source I see on it is a diary entry on Daily Kos -- which invokes the same type of factual dread as the words, "according to Wikipedia..."

Bill Cunningham said...

The RIAA is collecting fees for internet broadcasting of songs through its unincorporated Division SoundExchange.

They collect a percentage of the royalties for their "free service."

You can license your songs directly to a station -- AS LONG AS SOUNDEXCHANGE COLLECTS THE ROYALTIES.

Oh, and in regard to your #1 -- a union or trade association by any other name still sticks to the bottom of your boots.

And on the off chance this a very elaborate hoax, then if I were the Librarian of Congress I would be pissed. This IS too close to the truth for comfort.

Anonymous said...

Ugh! First the 10 cent per email fee I am paying to Bill Gates, and now this.... I won't be able to afford to stay in business.

DecoderRing said...

...."a union or trade association by any other name still sticks to the bottom of your boots."...

even if this were a hoax, that line would make it all worth it.

sing it, jackson.